Sometimes it helps to trust that our loved-ones can provide valuable insight into our behavior to help us cope with symptoms.
My mom is by far my biggest support. She has always been here for me even when she had no idea how to help me. It has been over 20 years since my diagnosis and just a few days ago, we had a conversation that shows me how hard my illness still is on her.
I recently wrote about getting very stressed and quite ill from hearing that a goal I set last year is finally coming true (click here to read Bipolar Apathy). To the outside world, getting sick from having success seems really crazy. But in our bipolar world, this is a regular occurrence.
It was so bad the other day, I sat in my mom’s backyard and said,”How am I going to finish this book project if I can’t even get past this stupid bipolar! I was sick all day today. I can’t stop thinking of how hard this is and how it might not work out for me. This anxiety is so bad. I can’t breathe and people are counting on me. I have to get his project done!”
She said, “Julie, can’t you just stop all of that thinking and worrying that goes on and just do the project?”
That stopped me short.
I looked at her, laughed and said, “Mom! That is the bipolar. If anyone in the world could just stop it form happening, it would be me. That is what I write about all day long, but wow, just stopping it is not that easy! I can’t believe you asked that question! You know it’s bipolar!”
But she was right. I was focusing on what I couldn’t do.
Bipolar had me in its talons and would not let go.
I knew it was up to me to break the pattern so that I could finally work on the project. The day of our conversation was a lost day work wise. I couldn’t work. I spent the day trying to manage the bipolar. But guess what? I managed to sleep that night and the next day I was able to work.
Bipolar is unkind, unfair, unreasonable and unloving. It is relentless and we have to hear the people in our lives when they tell us that we are giving in to the mood swings. My mom was right. I was letting bipolar think for me. She could hear it in my voice.
Thanks to our moms. Thanks to people who are willing to kindly tell us to get a grip and ease the control bipolar has on our minds.
I wasn’t mad at my mom in reality. I’m mad that I have to live with bipolar. I’m mad that you or a loved one has to live with bipolar. But please know there is hope. I can reach my goals and you can reach your goals. We simply have to notice when bipolar is thinking and talking for us and say no to the illness. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Julie A. Fast is the author of "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder," "Get it Done When You’re Depressed" and "The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder." She is a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists and general practitioners on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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